Starring Dane Cook and Stacy Keach. Rated G. Now playing.
Let’s face it. Disney could probably make an animated feature about a warehouse full of feisty little air conditioners and come up something eminently watchable. The studio has always had a way of breathing life into inanimate objects. And, despite a few bumps along the way, Planes is no exception.
This latest effort—clearly meant to capitalize on the box office success of Cars—follows the standard Disney formula down to the last lug nut. Dusty (voiced by Dane Cook) is an ordinary crop duster who longs to fly with the big boys. Thanks to an annual aerial race around the globe, he has a chance to prove his mettle. The problem? Dusty’s afraid of heights.
Despite taunts of being “built for seed, not speed,” Dusty pursues his dream. He’s helped along by a number of obliging friends. Including a dilapidated World War II fighter plane named Skipper (voiced by Stacy Keach) and a fuel truck named Chug (the voice of Brad Garrett). Dusty has his obstacles, of course. Chiefly a vain and unethical jet named Ripslinger (Roger Craig Smith). But, gradually, the little crop duster’s sense of fair play and optimism wins over most of his competitors. Including a stuffy British jet voiced by John Cleese.
Director Klay Hall does his best to keep things zippy. But, even at a lively 90 minutes, the seemingly endless flying sequences can get a little monotonous. Skipper’s militaristic backstory was a little too jingoistic for my taste. And it doesn’t help that the script enthusiastically embraces a few overly familiar stereotypes. (Including a lovesick—and vaguely horny—Mexican plane obsessed with a sexy-pink, French Canadian jet.)
The good news? While this may slow things down for jaded adults, kids should have no problem rooting for Dusty. And isn’t that what a movie like Planes is all about?